Being new to a country, be it for work, studies or both, is always an adventure. In Switzerland, one of the biggest adventures for a lot of foreigners is learning German. So first thing to do before looking for a job: start learning German. Believe me: You will need it. Unless you have two engineering degrees or are specialized in machine-learning, for example. The language is what helps most foreigners, in the long run, to find a decent part- or full-time job.
Till then, pretty much every job will do. Yes, you read right: Pretty much every job will do. You know why? Because no one waited for another person that speaks only English. Of course it is good to stay on track and persistent with finding your dream-job. But for anything that pays your bills on the way to the peak, don’t be picky. I have a friend that has a PHD in biochemistry and is fluent in English, French and Portuguese. She moved here because of her husband. Despite her impressive professional background, it took her over a year to find a job that fits her professional field.
Cheating a bit wont hurt anyone
She kept her head above the water with small jobs in the hotel industry which she got, amongst other things, because she followed rule number three: cheat on your CV. And no, I don’t want you to cheat like crazy on your CV and pretend that you are a genius. In the case of my friend cheating meant putting a B1 for German instead of an A2. She learned the most important vocabulary for day-to-day-conversation plus the one in catering and managed to get a good rating for her first shift, despite her having cheated on the CV.
On www.coople.com, the platform for “flexible workers and companies” for example, it barely happens that anyone checks whether you actually speak the language at the level you mentioned. Especially, if the shift needs to be filled at short notice. The downside to that platform is, that the confirmation of a shift often comes in very late, sometimes just a few hours before the shift starts. The shifts itself are usually just a few hours a day. If you get lucky you find a job that comes with shifts for several weeks. Especially when you are paid per hour make sure to read the fine print and know your rights. For example, when you are called in for a shift and, as soon as you have reached the place, they tell you they don’t need you after all, they still have to pay you the salary. So make it very clear that you don’t want to go home because they will try fooling you.
Same goes for what is called “Probetag” (trial day). They might tell you that is common that this one is unpaid and they are right about that (sadly). What they wont mention though is that by law they have to pay you even for a Probetag, given you are working a normal shift (no matter if it is three hours or eight – work is paid!). It is a different story though if you get to witness what a normal shift looks like (without working) then it is ok if it is unpaid. However, even now that you know that by law they would have to pay you you might have to grit your teeth and give it a try. At the end of the day, if they give you the job, it is free labor well invested. You can find a good overview on your rights in English here (ch.ch).
Networking is the magic word
Next to the places mentioned above, it makes sense to sign up with some of the temporary offices in the region. In Lucerne there are about 15, Zurich has about four times as many offices. Other websites that might help you find a job are the marketplace of Zurich University, the marketplace of Lucerne University or the marketplace of Basel University. Another one that is quite popular in Zurich is www.ronorp.ch. The page also exists for other cities, but there they are not as active.
On Facebook there are also several groups that can be helpful when job hunting. English Speaking Jobs & Opportunities in Zurich for example offers the possibility to post and look for a job but you can also just look for advice and get support on your quest. People also share their success stories over there sometimes, which can be motivating, especially if you have been looking for a job for quite some time.
Another thing you can do is to simply call the company and ask whether they are still looking for someone. Now, that Switzerland is relaxing its restrictions, you could even take that further and pay your future employer company a visit. Ask for the manager, smile and give her/him/them your CV and all the other documents that are required. The Swiss are very precise and pay attention to details. So it is important that your application is complete and without flaws. I once got rejected a job interview because of a spelling mistake – that should tell you how serious this is.
You can find out more about job hunting in Switzerland in my other blog posts: